The diversity of a company and its success are not only directly related, but their relationship has become increasingly significant in recent years.

According to a series of reports from McKinsey & Company, companies with more gender diversity on their board financially outperform companies with a homogeneous board by 25%. Similarly, those with more ethnically diverse boards financially outperform those with homogeneous boards by 36%.

Developing diverse teams can be particularly helpful in the civil engineering profession. It opens the door to new ideas and solutions to the unique challenges that engineers face in our evolving world.

In part one of this ASCE Interchange, Miguel Alemañy, founder of Innomatrix and board chair for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, discusses how diverse teams drive business innovation and success.

“When you get people who all come from the same background, from the same ethnicity, from the same gender, over time they tend to have the same thinking,” said Alemañy.

“Difference in perspective is where innovation happens. It’s very critical.”

Diversity involves more than gender and ethnicity. People’s background – where and how they grew up – is also an important perspective to consider. But the critical diversity needed for a team is the diversity of thought.

Alemañy discusses this idea by comparing linear thinkers with “scatterbrained” thinkers. He believes that having both types of individuals on a team is key to success. Linear thinkers act as the heart of a team, primarily executing crucial actions. Lateral thinkers (he calls them scatterbrained thinkers) are the visionaries, developing the ideas for the team to implement. A good combination of these types of thinkers influences the team’s power to solve and deliver, and ultimately, to succeed.

To view all Interchange episodes, visit ASCE’s YouTube channel.